Alcon to debut new cataract-surgery device

Novartis' long-flailing Alcon business delivered strong results in the second quarter this year, helping to offset a slump in its generics business.

Novartis' Alcon will introduce its recently CE-marked Clareon intraocular lens with an automated delivery system at the European Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgeons Congress next week. The company will present data for the Clareon device as well as studies of other devices. 

The Clareon intraocular lens (IOL) is made of "the most advanced optic material available," Alcon said in a statement. It is delivered through an automated, disposable, preloaded system. It has been described as a next-generation polymer material that maintains the benefits of Alcon’s AcrySof platform, Market Scope reported when Clareon scored its CE mark. 

"We are proud to deliver on our commitment to bring innovations to the surgical community, and Clareon is one of the biggest breakthroughs in the IOL space," Alcon CEO Mike Ball said in a statement. "This is a great year for Alcon as we celebrate many important milestones—from fulfilling our mission to help people see better by enhancing and transforming the way surgeons treat cataracts through innovations like Clareon, to marking the 100 millionth implant of our flagship AcrySof lenses." 

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Early cataracts are typically treated conservatively, with new eyeglasses, magnifying lenses and antiglare sunglasses, according to the National Eye Institute. Cataract surgery, which involves removing the cataract and implanting an IOL, is only required when the cataract interferes with a patient's everyday activity or if the cataract doesn't allow treatment of a different eye condition. 

Novartis hopes to snag FDA approval for the Clareon, as well as for its PanOptix trifocal and trifocal toric lenses, by 2019. 

Long-struggling Alcon has been a damper on Novartis' sales, with CEO Joe Jimenez drawing up a plan in January last year to turn the eyecare business around. While it looked "brutal," it seems like the plan might be working—Alcon buoyed Novartis' sales in the second quarter this year, rising 3% to $1.5 billion and prompting Bernstein analyst Tim Anderson to write "Alcon grew (!)" in a note to investors.